Govt’s plan alarms family

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia ,

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The Cowley family cemetery on the shoreline of Vaiusu.

The Cowley family cemetery on the shoreline of Vaiusu. (Photo: Lanuola Tusani Tupufia )

The government’s plan to build a multi-million-tala wharf at Vaiusu has alarmed many residents – including the descendants of the late William Cowley.

The descendants of William Cowley have settled in the village of Vaiusu and the sub-village of Vaigaga for hundreds of years.

Originally from England, Cowley made Samoa his home when Germany ruled Samoa.

He married a girl from the family of Tamaseu in Tauese, named Tasiaeafe.

It wasn’t until 1889 when Cowley passed away that he was laid to rest on his family land at Vaiusu. 

More than thirty descendants of Cowley, including his children and grandchildren are buried alongside him on the shoreline of Vaiusu where the family graveyard is located.

Cowley is also connected to the Stanley family, whose family members are also laid to rest on the family freehold land at Vaiusu. 

However, the government’s proposed wharf at the Vaiusu Bay could see the graveyards removed. 

Ulugia Tailua Cowley, who is the fourth generation of the Cowley family, lives right next to the family graveyard. 

The father of four said if the wharf means their family graves will be affected, he will not support it. 

“I don’t think it’s right if the structure will affect us living here and our families who are resting there,” Ulugia told the Samoa Observer. 

Ulugia Tailua Cowley of Vaiusu and Vaigaga.
Ulugia Tailua Cowley of Vaiusu and Vaigaga.

“I don’t go against the government and its plan if it’s for a way forward for our country. But as you see here, the families living here have been established and I have been living here ever since I was born. 

“I don’t know how the government is planning to build the wharf but we won’t support it if it will mean the removal of our ancestors.”

According to Ulugia, in June this year, he saw some Asian men on their land setting up their equipment. 

He said none of them understood English and he could not communicate with them on what they were doing there. 

“They came here, set up their equipment and they started measuring the lands,” said the matai. 

“We couldn’t understand what they were saying. I would’ve thought that the government would brief us on what they are planning so we can understand where exactly they will plan the wharf and if our lands will be affected…like I mentioned before we do not object to their plans but it would be nice and the right thing to do to consult villagers.”

The matai also pointed out that their lagoons are very good source of food for the families living in the area. 

He explained that there are so many sea creatures and fish living on the shores and it would be damaging if the wharf will take over the lagoon. 

Looking at the shoreline, Ulugia said he is unclear of how far out the wharf will be. 

Meanwhile, he said they will not rush in a decision and will wait on the government for an explanation. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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